A poor first half against Syracuse on Saturday doomed the USF women’s basketball team to its first loss in the Carrier Dome as a member of the Big East Conference.
USF (10-12, 1-7), which was unable to build on the momentum of winning its first conference game of the season Tuesday at home against Seton Hall, lost 78-57 to the Orange.
An early run by Syracuse put a lopsided game out of reach. After a 3-3 tie soon after tip-off, the Orange went on a 20-2 run that blew the game wide open.
The Bulls were unable to get any closer than a 12-point deficit.
USF guard Andrea Smith shot 5 of 8 from 3-point range en route to a game-high 23 points. No other Bulls scored in double figures.
By contrast, four Orange starters reached double figures, with freshman forward Shakeya Leary also contributing 10 points from the bench. Starting center Kayla Alexander scored a team-high 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor.
Syracuse (16-4, 4-3) built an advantage in every major statistical category for a dominating victory. The Orange shot 52 percent from the floor for the game, out-rebounded the Bulls 35-29 and outscored USF 36-18 in the paint.
USF struggled through foul trouble, sending Syracuse to the free-throw line for 31 attempts. Center Akila McDonald fouled out after just nine minutes of play.
Forward Leondra Doomes-Stephens returned to the court after missing the midweek game due to illness. Doomes-Stephens played 21 minutes off the bench, scoring just six points.
The Bulls have a week to regroup before hosting No. 9 Notre Dame at the Sun Dome on Saturday at 7 p.m.